Last year, I debated whether it was worth attending the American Association of Law Libraries conference, which was in Philadelphia, when I had not yet started my coursework at CUA and was not, at the time, working in a law library. I decided to make the (hellacious on a summer Friday) drive up I-95 and was so pleased that I did so, as I met some amazing people who have already become friends and professional contacts. So, for me, attending AALL in Chicago this summer, was a “no-brainer” (even though I was enrolled in the Copyright and Licensing Institute and could only attend two of the four days of the conference!).
My experience began with the plane ride, believe it or not. I noticed that my seatmate had a Bloomberg Law tote bag from last year’s conference and struck up a conversation. My new friend happened to work at the law library where I worked as an undergraduate, and we had a number of friends and experiences in common. She was travelling with a colleague, and a newer librarian at another local academic library was sitting behind us and joined our conversation—so before I had even arrived at the conference site, I had three new contacts!
Some people consider just this type of networking to be the most important reason to attend conferences, and while I would not dispute that, I would also say that attendees should not overlook the educational content, especially as a student and new librarian.
Even during my abbreviated stay, I found two panels dealing with promoting faculty scholarship, a key duty for my new position, and came away with many new ideas and perspectives, and comfort in knowing that there is an active network of law librarians dealing with the same issues as me.
Finally, conferences are great opportunities to see new places, or see them in a different way. Though I had been to Chicago a number of times, I had never seen the city’s architecture by boat, or even spent time on the waterfront, and the Chicago Architectural Boat Foundation tour arranged by AALL was, truly, excellent—particularly on a low humidity, sunny, 75-degree day!